With its low self-esteem and high urban blight, Hartford is the ultimate underdog city. Sad City Hartford documents the joys, sorrows and eccentricities of New England's Rising Star.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Last & First

While digging through some of our archives we came upon these historical gems, ticket stubs from our last Hartford Whalers game and first Hartford Wolfpack game. The Whalers won the clash 6-3 against the arch-rival Bruins. While the Whalers weren't a good team at this time the Bruins were even worse having just traded Bill Ranford, Adam Oates, and Rich Tocchet for Jason Allison, Anson Carter, and Jim Carrey and on their way to last place and drafting teen phenom Joe Thornton #1 overall.

The star of this game would be the immortal Kent Manderville who scored a hat trick for the Whalers, 3 of his 37 career (and six for the season) goals over 646 games. The Whalers would only play six and win three more games in Hartford before relocating to North Carolina.

Less than seven months later Hartford was officially a minor league town as the Wolfpack debuted as the AHL affiliate of the New York Rangers. Season ticket holders were given free tickets and almost 13,000 (more than had been at the March 12 Bruins game) watched the Wolfpack skate to victory.

The player that made the greatest impression that night was diminutive and fiery P.J. Stock who endeared himself to fans by scoring the first ever Wolfpack goal and then winning a fight and celebrating by doing what is now known as the "Aaron Rodgers discount double check" move as he skated off to the penalty box.

Years later while living in Boston, we watched stunned as Stock became a cult hero in Boston playing for the once rival Bruins. The winger became so popular with fans for his rough and tumble style of play and fighting that P.J. Stock jersey t-shirts with "Asskicker" in place of Stock's name became one of the most popular shirts in Boston for a year.

We would tell anyone who would listen (and none cared) that we had seen Stock wow the crowd at the first ever Hartford AHL game. Stock, just like us, had travelled The Pike and relocated to Boston, plying his trade only a few blocks from our North End apartment.

Today Stock works as a TV hockey analyst in his hometown of Montreal. Last night Hakaan watched the CT Whale win a thrilling 4-1 game to tie the series with the Norfolk Admirals 2-2 in his hometown of Hartford.

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